Determining the Genre of Genesis 1-11

I just finished reading Zondervan’s newest counterpoints book, Genesis: History, Fiction, or Neither?. It is one of the best in the series. I’ll offer more detailed comments in a future post. For now I want to highlight something said by the general editor, Charles Halton.

“Determining the genre of Gen 1-11 and its proper interpretation is an extremely difficult task. To do it competently, one must be able to read Genesis in Hebrew and Greek, have a knowledge of the history of its interpretation, be acquainted with critical methods and conclusions, understand the various theories of historiography and the ways in which ancient authors composed narratives of the past, be able to compare Gen 1-11 with cognate texts, and so on. No one scholar is an expert in all of these areas but he or she must be familiar enough with each of them to skillfully synthesize their results into an overarching determination. This is no easy feat to be sure. And, as we have seen, supremely capable interpreters often arrive at very different conclusions.” (p. 160)

Genesis: History, Fiction, or Neither is a paperback with 174 pages and sells for $16.99. The contributors are James K. Hoffmeier , Gordon John Wenham , Kenton Sparks.

Genesis

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One thought on “Determining the Genre of Genesis 1-11

  1. Why does Genesis have to be interpreted in this way at all? Peter put it much more simply that “no prophecy of the scripture is its own interpretation.” (2Peter 1:20,21.) The wrIter above seems to make any interpretation well nigh impossible.
    It also makes any interpretation of anything in the Bible well nigh impossible for he will come up with the same difficulties he imagines wherever he goes in the Bible. A Post Modern Interpretation simply cannot work as any interpretation of History in this way only leaves us in darkness.
    I could even argue that this manner of thinking is arrogant in the extreme. It suggests that even the Apostles are not reliable, nor the Lord Jesus, who was and is, ‘The truth’ . Paul, regarding the Old Testament, asserted. ” For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for out learning that we, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 15:4.)
    The letters of Paul and the sayings of the Lord Jesus are full of references to the Old Testament, including Genesis.See, for instance, Matthew 19:4-6 where the Lord uses the example of Adam and Eve when disputing with the Pharisees over marriage and divorce.

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